Exploring The London Transport Museum


When my husband declared that our family outing for the weekend was to be the London Transport Museum, I’m not proud of myself for secretly thinking I’ll notch this one up as an unspoken credit towards my next spa day. There was of course logic in his choice. Both our children, since developing dexterity and curiosity about things beyond pureed mango, have had a natural passion for things with wheels. Up until my daughter turned 5 and overnight seemed to turn into a presenter for infomercials, this also seemed to be a pretty gender-neutral thing. So, off went Family Wilson with a promise of trains, an offer that would have thrilled them even if it had culminated in a circuit of the District Line. My husband was indeed wise; we couldn’t really lose.

On arrival there was a little bit of a queue, a concept Ben (3) has little patience for (he was born in Malaysia – the concept doesn’t exist there), so we had a few break in attempts all thwarted before we hit our first happy moment at the counter; Kids under 17 go free and any adult ticket becomes an annual pass (you can book on-line). As you enter it’s apparent that the infrastructure of the museum is great with a good network of lifts and ramps. Once fully inside, the awesome splendor of decades of transport evolution is right before your eyes.

We approached our first exhibit and it was obvious we were all getting something different from the experience. Daddy Wilson was busy reading the accompanying plaques, digesting historic information and considering the vehicle’s contribution to the transport infrastructure we know today. Ben had already ducked under a no entry barrier and was heading for the model guard, luckily with enough cute swagger to avert any serious reprimand. Holly was conducting an infomercial from the permitted carriage (she’s very compliant if not a bit bossy) and I was conjuring up images of scenes in films where a 50’s siren waves a hankie at a beau on the platform in a raincoat and trilby hat. There is something romantic about a vintage railway carriage, something you don’t get so much on South West Trains.

We were all having a great time on our own terms!

As you progress round the exhibits there are all kinds of interactive activities. It’s all however, nothing compared to the section we had yet to discover – The All Aboard Play Zone. Now, anyone acquainted with the obligatory horror that is a soft play (I mean all parents), will know that something containing the words play and zone is to small children what the words all day football are to Daddy. Here though, you are presented with a genre that includes pretend double decker buses; dress up uniforms and an all-access, fully assembled wooden railway track inclusive of trains and carriages. OK, all you can hear around this installation is {insert name} SHARE! But that doesn’t take away the fact that it is quite possibly the best thing you can offer a 3 year old, M&Ms and Sprite notwithstanding (of course we never offer those).

But it gets better. Nearby there are cabs of actual buses with real dashboards and steering wheels! When I reached that superlative of Ben’s pleasure in the previous paragraph, I had truly peaked too soon. Then there was the real working public address system that allows the children to make their own announcements. To a child that does her own infomercials, well I don’t think I need to go on.

We reached naptime before we knew it, but no one really wanted to leave. This meant that we had hit that moment that parents may know as Exhausted Resistance, or in other circles, The Meltdown. With one child under Daddies arm screaming and a 5 year old walking behind us weeping in despair, an onlooker might have concluded the Wilsons were having a bad time. On the contrary we had had a brilliant one, it’s when they’re happy to leave you’ve got to worry.

And so, with annual passes to our names, it’s highly likely we will return soon. (Mummy might join a tiny bit later; she’s just got some important shopping to do first….)

Jackie Wilson

Jackie started writing for Belle on her return to the UK after 3 years living in Kuala Lumpur. Formerly a Marketing Manager of British institutions such as Cathedral City Cheddar and Twinings Tea, she wrote columns and web content in KL for several local and expat magazines and sites and was a contributing author for the book Knocked Up Abroad. Jackie is now back on the expat beat living in Cincinatti, USA where she is engaged in a feast of writing projects while desperately clinging to her children’s British accents and curiously observing the American way.

6 people like this post.